By Peter Tase
On June 20, 2019 the President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen received a delegation chaired by the Paraguayan Minister of Industry and Commerce Liz Cramer. The president welcomed Minister Cramer and her delegation to Taiwan. On this unique occasion, President Tsai Ing-wen stated that Taiwan will continue to work in partnership with all economic sectors of Paraguayan society to expand bilateral development and cooperation on many development areas.
Over the past few days, Minister Cramer and the members of her delegation had meetings and engaged with leaders of the government and public sector. The Paraguayan guests attended the second joint committee meeting on the Taiwan-Paraguay Economic Cooperation Agreement, and held an information sharing meeting focused on investment opportunities in Paraguay. President Tsai expressed confidence that both countries benefit greatly from these activities.
According to the office of media relations under the President of China (Taiwan), “president Tsai mentioned that when she visited Paraguay last year, she keenly felt the close cooperative ties between Taiwan and Paraguay. There are about 4,000 Taiwanese citizens currently doing business in Paraguay, and they have invested a combined total amount of more than US$100 million. She expressed hope that Taiwan and Paraguay will build on the current foundation to further enhance investment ties.”
Furthermore, the president pointed out that, “in addition to Minister Cramer’s current visit, Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-Chin (沈榮津) will lead a delegation of firms to Paraguay next month, and the two sides will hold a Taiwan-Paraguay Economic Cooperation Meeting in a collaborative effort to strengthen our partnership.”
During her meeting with Minister Cramer, President Tsai further pointed out that “deeper cooperation between Taiwan and Paraguay over the past three years is gradually beginning to show results. For example, the Taiwan-Paraguay Economic Cooperation Agreement entered into effect in February of last year, and Paraguay’s exports to Taiwan from January through May of this year totaled US$18.1 million, up by 90% year-on-year.”
The president of China (Taiwan) said that she hopes “to use enhanced Taiwan-Paraguay commercial ties to help Taiwanese companies bolster their global presence. Paraguay is a member of Mercosur, so when Taiwanese companies invest in Paraguay or set up business locations there, it helps Taiwan to use its foothold in Paraguay to set its sights on the rest of South America.”
The president emphasized that the two countries must work together to achieve shared goals and objectives. This visit to Taiwan by Minister Liz Cramer demonstrates how much Paraguay values the promotion of its bilateral commercial ties with Taipei. The head of state, emphasized that “Taiwan will continue to work with all sectors of Paraguayan society to expand exchanges and cooperation across the board.”
In her closing remarks, Tsai welcomed Minister Cramer to Taiwan once again, and requested her to convey greetings from Taiwan to the President of Paraguay Mario Abdo Benítez.
In August 15-17, 2018, President Tsai Ing-wen, conducted an official visit to the Republic of Paraguay, considered by many scholars as China’s (Taiwan’s) most trustworthy ally in Latin America. In her meeting with her fellow countrymen residing in Paraguay and other South American countries, President Tsai Ing-wen stated: “I’m delighted to once again visit Paraguay, our most geographically distant ally. … Thank you for being with us this evening, and thank you for your love and support of Taiwan. In addition to our expatriates from Asunción, I know that many people drove hours to get here from Ciudad del Este. Some also came from even more distant places like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and even Mexico. I’m grateful that so many expatriates spent so much time to come all the way to Paraguay to join us. I remember that, I met with our expatriates on the same spot on my previous visit to Paraguay. I’m truly happy to meet with Taiwan’s hard-working, dedicated expatriates abroad here. Many of you also attended the last banquet here two years ago, and I want to thank you again for having travelled a long way from different parts of Latin America to be here. It heartens me every time I meet with overseas expatriates in different countries. So every time when I travel abroad, I always look forward to meeting Taiwanese expatriates in different countries.”
President Tsai Ing-wen continued with her statement, the following is the continuation of her speech: “Though our expatriates spend a long time living and working far from home, you always keep Taiwan close to your hearts. Getting together with you makes me feel I am with a big family. So this evening is another reunion of the Taiwanese extended family in Latin America, and I thank everyone from afar.
Paraguay is an important stop on my current trip. It’s an honor to attend the inauguration of President Mario Abdo Benítez, and we extend best wishes to him. I also want to take the opportunity to thank outgoing President Horacio Cartes for his support of Taiwan.
Over the past few years, Taiwan-Paraguay relations have grown increasingly close, thanks in no small part to the concerted efforts of Taiwan’s expatriates. Taiwan and Paraguay instituted reciprocal visa-free courtesies last year, an important step in spurring bilateral exchanges. The Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Paraguay also went into effect early this year, and Taiwan has continued to increase the import quota for Paraguayan beef. Paraguayan beef has become very popular in the Taiwan market.
We also have many members of the Taiwan Technical Mission with us this evening. They are the vanguards of our diplomatic force, and it is tough work, indeed. Taiwan has limited diplomatic space, but with our prowess in agriculture, science and technology, and medical care, we can pursue a uniquely Taiwanese diplomatic strategy and continue our contribution to the world.
In recent years, Taiwan has helped Paraguay promote projects to breed and cultivate Pacu fingerlings, cultivate orchids, and manage health information, thus making excellent progress. These projects are helping Paraguay’s development, and broadening the global vision of Taiwan’s technical talent. Over the past two years, we have been using this kind of mutually beneficial thinking to promote Taiwan’s “steadfast diplomacy” policy.
Tonight with us, there is a person who deserves special mention. His name is Lin Yu Wei (林育葦). I think that everyone might have noticed a building designed to look like a soccer ball on your way to the banquet. This shows just how passionate the people of Paraguay are about soccer. With that same passion, Mr. Lin came to Paraguay by himself to pursue his “soccer dream,” and along the journey there were certainly a lot of difficulties that only he himself knows about.
But Paraguayans are warm and friendly, and his coach and teammates treat him like family, caring for him and helping him train. Mr. Lin thus personifies the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay. I believe that someday we can see Yu Wei perform on a much bigger international stage, perhaps the next World Cup. So let’s cheer him on.
Taiwan continues to pursue its own soccer dream, while Paraguay is already a world-class soccer player. Therefore Taiwan can learn a lot from Paraguay, and we will continue to encourage bilateral player exchanges. And now that Yu Wei has blazed a trail, more people will surely follow in his footsteps.
The ideals of our young people are Taiwan’s ideals. We must support more young people like Yu Wei as they seek to pursue their own success in Latin America and many other places around the world. So I want to encourage all our expatriates here to help Taiwanese youth seek opportunities.
Opportunities abound throughout Latin America, and everyone is very aware of its potential. So Taiwan will continue to enhance diplomatic ties with Paraguay, and use Paraguay as an important gateway to build a stronger presence throughout Latin America.
All the expatriates here are spokespersons for Taiwan in Latin America. I want to urge each of you to work with the government to bring Taiwan and Latin America closer together so that Taiwan can participate in the development and growth of the Mercosur region.No matter how great the challenges will be, or how numerous the difficulties ahead, Taiwan will continue to engage with the world. Let’s join hands and offer mutual encouragement. This evening’s banquet is our delegation’s last event in Paraguay. I want to once again thank you for your enthusiastic welcome. Tomorrow, we will be heading to Belize to continue Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts. It’s truly a pleasure to get together with you at the banquet, see some lively performances, and encourage each other. Thank you for joining me here today.”